1/13/2018, 11:39 a.m.
In some quarters, T.K. Somanath and the Richmond Redevelopment and Housing Authority that he leads would be considered slumlords. When radiator pipes began leaking in 12 of the buildings in the Creighton Court public housing community, forcing RRHA to turn off furnaces and leaving residents with no heat, the authority thought it acceptable to give residents space heaters to fend off the cold.
Even when the recent frigid polar front swept through Richmond, Mr. Somanath and the RRHA really believed space heaters, combined with open kitchen ovens that residents turned on blast, would be enough to warm people’s homes.
It took residents complaining to local media about the frightful and dangerous situation to get RRHA officials to finally do something meaningful and positive: They permitted residents to move to units with working heat and accepted an offer from a local hotel to provide free rooms for tenants.
Mr. Somanath and RRHA officials knew about the leaky radiator pipes long before the bitter cold set in, but failed to act in a timely manner to protect residents.
In fact, Mr. Somanath seemingly took a page from the playbook of the clueless Queen Marie Antoinette, who, when told that the French people were starving, said, “Let them eat cake.”
When RRHA residents were freezing, Mr. Somanath was partying with family and friends at President Trump’s posh Florida private club, Mar-a-Lago. A photo of him attending a reception at the Palm Beach, Fla., resort was posted on Facebook, where freezing residents saw it.
What a slap in the face!
While we are not advocating that Mr. Somanath and the RRHA Board of Commissioners be taken to the guillotine like Marie Antoinette, we believe they should be held accountable for this debacle.
After all, their chief responsibility is to provide safe and decent housing for people who cannot afford market-rate living quarters. Perhaps Mr. Somanath should be fired, and the nine-member Board of Commissioners should be recalled by the Richmond City Council, which appointed them.